It’s hard to dispute the health benefits that a booze break offers both your body and mind, and recently I took a hiatus from the sauce to reset. At the start, I found myself a little uneasy about the effects it would have on my social life, but the experience gave me a firsthand view of an acute awareness swirling around Colorado Springs cocktail bars and restaurants to provide inclusive, accessible and tasty nonalcoholic mocktails.
Whether you’re sober, expecting, participating in nonalcoholic months like Sober October or simply interested in integrating mocktails into a more responsible drinking approach, we can thank the youngins for this push toward a more enlightened way of imbibing. According to an article published by the BBC, “Gen Zers are growing up sober curious,” and a rising percentage of young adults worldwide are opting to drink considerably less than that of older generations. It seems Colorado Springs is no exception.
Whatever your reason for exploring mocktails and nonalcoholic alternatives, here are a few of our favorite local places, where you can partake in the same craft quality and well-deserved escapism — minus the burn and, thankfully, any hangxiety the next morning.
Cork & Cask
Whether you’re looking for moody vibes while lounging on velvet couches or some patio time beside crackling fire pits, Cork & Cask is a sought after destination downtown for enjoying handcrafted drinks with friends. Their staff is extremely accommodating and thorough when it comes to suggesting mocktails that are made specific to your flavor preferences. The menu currently has existing libations that can easily be transitioned into a NA version, and popular options include The Southside and White Sangria, which also drop the price tag down to $7.
“The interest isn’t going anywhere but up,” says Lucas Frye, owner of Cork & Cask. “We have seen a steady and growing interest in mocktails from the general public, especially over the last few years. I definitely think that the movement of quality mocktails isn’t going away and will probably evolve even further.”
The Fifty-Niner, a speakeasy lounge surreptitiously located behind Dice Guys game shop in Old Colorado City, has a list of mocktails that mirrors its cocktail counterparts almost to a T. The same-same offerings, with one concocted using NA spirits instead of the hard stuff, makes it easy to order any libation of your choice, alcohol free. Our favorite is the Monopoly, a refreshing blend of zero proof gin, agave, elderflower and sparkling grapefruit.
The Wobbly Olive, a staple cocktail bar on the Powers Corridor, is known for its extensive cocktail list and also showcases “zero proof cocktails” for $9 in its ever-evolving beverage repertoire. Now you can savor the same great flavors but bypass the “wobble out” exit thanks to popular drinks revamped to replicate the originals’ care and craftsmanship but with zilch bite.
“We’re calling these zero proof cocktails,” says Sean Fitzgerald, owner of Wobbly Olive. “The reason we want to get rid of the word mock is because we’re not faking it, and we’re not mocking anyone for not drinking. We put the same amount of love and care into every one of these cocktails, just sans alcohol.”
One of our favorite drinks, the spicy C.H.O.L.O. drops the mezcal and tequila but holds onto the spice with a MockC.H.O.L.O made with mango syrup, lemonade, lime juice and jalapeno, still with the textural Tajin rim we know and love. For an aromatic take, the Lavender Lemonade features housemade lemonade, lavender syrup, club soda, dried lavender and a lemon wheel that exudes the same complexity and aesthetic as any other great cocktail that Wobbly slings.
Fitzgerald adds a “smidge of cayenne to simulate the burn of alcohol” to play on the senses. Wobbly is declining to use any NA spirits, instead strictly creating products using their own ingredients and infusions.
“This is a fun challenge because it takes so much creativity to make a cocktail without booze, with the same care and craft that we would for everything else,” says Fitzgerald. “There’s no judgment here, and we still have options for you to explore.”
Another popular bar under Fitzgerald’s helm is Allusion, which debuts its new theme, Nightmare Before Christmas, on Saturday, Oct. 21. Both locations, downtown and Powers are also jumping on the NA wagon with a pumpkin based “Zero” proof cocktail, inspired by Jack Skellington’s adorable ghost dog.
NA Events: Sober Soiree
Ready to have a good ol’ time, no alcohol necessary? Homeward Pikes Peak and Chef Brother Luck partner up to host the Sober Soiree on Saturday, October 21, 6-9 p.m. (104 W. Cimmaron St.) to shine a light on sobriety and the NA movement. Guests can expect small plates and mocktails from local chefs and bartenders — including Fitzgerald from Wobbly, Allusion and The Tipperary. Attendees will also have the opportunity to cast their votes for favorite zero proof beverage. Tickets are $75.
“We wanted to be as inclusive as possible, and going out to have a cocktail isn’t about getting drunk, it’s about camaraderie and the experience,” Fitzgerald says. “Let’s show how much fun a person, a community can have without consuming.”
For more information on the Facebook event page.